Katelyn Ohashi reveals unexpected ESPYs honoree who had her 'starstruck'
Katelyn Ohashi became a celebrity overnight when her perfect-10 gymnastics floor routine was posted by the official UCLA Twitter account in January and almost immediately went viral.
Fans were taken by her upbeat personality and high-energy performance. The rest of the sporting world took notice too. At the 2019 ESPY Awards in July, the recent UCLA grad won both Best Play of the Year and Viral Sports Moment of the Year.
Ohashi used her time on stage after winning Best Play to deliver a poetic speech about body image and gender stereotypes.
"It was a really amazing opportunity," she told AOL Sports on behalf of Gatorade. "You can feel the vibe of the room, of all these driven, like-minded people."
Ohashi was nervous, naturally, to speak in front of the most famous athletes in the world, as well as a massive television audience, upon winning her awards, but she pushed through and delivered her message with poise.
There was one person in attendance, however, that left the 22-year-old "starstruck." It wasn't Serena Williams, any member of the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team or Rob Gronkowski – rather, it was high school football coach Rob Mendez, the recipient of this year's Jimmy V Award for Perseverance.
Mendez was born without limbs but didn't let that keep him away from the sport he loves.
Rob Mendez at the 2019 ESPY Awards, via Getty Images
"He doesn't have arms or legs, but he has such a positive outlook on everything he is given," Ohashi said. "He gets a life, and he wants to inspire other kids. I would say I was starstruck about meeting him."
Ohashi, similarly, hopes to continue to use her platform to address social issues, especially those affecting women's sports. She graduated from UCLA in 2019 with a degree in gender studies.